Corner of Hope local growing project learns more specifics about its $27,000 raised this past harvest season helping nearly 500 individuals

Local efforts here ... Some of the members of the Corner of Hope local growing project gathered in late spring of last year for a Blessing of the Seed and Soil event prior to the planting of the crops grown for the local project. Those harvested crops were then sold and the $27,000 in proceeds from that sale were distributed by the Growing Hope Globally organization to assist in the funding of projects to improve food security and sustainability such as one depicted in the accompanying photo at right. Submitted photo.

... lead to global assistance elsewhere ... Members involved in the Honduras Macuelizo Project are pictured above learning how to make organic fertilizer as part of efforts introduced to their village to build a more sustainable agricultural system for growing their own food. The program was introduced through the Mennonite Social Action Committee and Church World Service through funding provided by the Corner of Hope local growing project conducted in Allamakee County and depicted in the accompanying photo at left. Submitted photo.

The annual Harvest Celebration/Appreciation Dinner was held in November of last year for the Corner of Hope local growing project, a program focused on combating world hunger through local growing efforts. This year’s celebration included presentations by leaders of the local growing project’s partnering organization Growing Hope Globally (formerly Foods Resource Bank), a Christian-based non-profit organization focused on improving agricultural food security programs in some of the world’s poorest nations.

It was reported at this year’s harvest celebration that $27,000 was contributed to the Growing Hope Globally efforts through the crops planted, harvested and sold from right here in Allamakee County through efforts and contributions of many.

While world hunger obviously involves a very large stage and Growing Hope Globally is one of the many contributors on that stage, leaders of the more local Corner of Hope project that will be entering its 15th season of contributing this year wanted to know more specifically what this year’s $27,000 helped out with. “I asked the leaders who were speaking at our banquet if we could get more specifics on just what our efforts here were contributing to elsewhere,” shared Dennis Byrnes of Waukon, one of the Corner of Hope local growing project leaders.

Within several weeks of his request of the Growing Hope Globally leaders, Byrnes received a packet of information with additional specifics about the impact of the local Corner of Hope growing efforts. Ultimately, the $27,000 raised by local efforts was reported as most directly helping 491 people in programs being implemented in Honduras, Sudan and Haiti, along with other programs implemented by Catholic Relief Services, Church World Service and Lutheran World Relief organizations.

In addition to those numbers and more geographical specifics, Byrnes and the local Corner of Hope organizers were also presented with specific written reports from each of the three main areas their local efforts provided direct assistance to. Those Corner of Hope leaders shared the following specifics from each of three programs in Honduras, Sudan and Haiti:

Led by Church World Service and Local Partner CASM (Comision de Accion Social Menonita, or Mennonite Social Action Committee), the focus of the Honduras Macuelizo Program is “Improving Family, Community and Environmental Health.”

Families participating in the Macuelizo program in Honduras - the country with the highest propensity for natural disaster in the world - discuss some of the ways their lives have improved with support from local partner CASM.

The Ramirez family says that “CASM is the first organization that has directly helped families in our community - ever. We have especially benefited from adopting techniques for contour farming on slopes, and other conservation agriculture practices. We feel encouraged to grow healthy foods and make changes to our home hygiene so our children can grow up strong and well.”

The Garcias say, “CASM has helped us diversify the crops we are growing, in a way that’s not harmful to the environment. Today we learned how to make organic fertilizer (pictured at right above accompanying this article). We’ve harvested more, and the food we eat is varied and more nutritious. This program increases our faith and confidence.”

The head of the Melara family comments on the support and encouragement his community has received on approaching their municipal government for infrastructure: “As a leader of the community, it brings me great joy to see the completion of our aqueduct repair project. Now we are able to improve sanitation in the community, reduce the spread of illness and supply clean water to people’s homes.”

And the Mejia family speaks for all when they say, “God bless those who donated to this program!”

Led by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the South Sudan Uror Program is focused on “Forging Ahead Despite Challenges.”

Despite multiple challenges in post-conflict South Sudan, local staff has been hard at work training farm extension agents and health technicians to ready farmers and their families for better days. The civil war has ended, yet there continue to be security and infrastructure issues. The remoteness of the area means that people are not in direct danger from residual conflict, but also that basic services are lacking, including phone communications. Recent heavy rains brought flooding, and widespread illiteracy makes training much more difficult. Yet much has been accomplished.

The focus is particularly on women farmers - the backbones of the community. They need to get up to speed quickly on the most effective ways to manage their crops, vegetables and homes. Health extension workers have trained “hygiene promoters” to distribute supplies and show women how to treat both well water and river water. Families received soap and instruction on the importance of handwashing.

Agricultural extension workers also identified training needs and mobilized farmer groups to attend training sessions at demonstration plots. They’ve taught basic principles of crop husbandry and growing vegetables. Because these farmers are starting out new, it has been necessary to distribute seeds and basic farming tools. Farmers are now concentrating on planting okra.

While challenges seem to be vast, it is clear that the will of local partner staff is strong. Growing Hope’s implementing organization, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is confident that the agriculture and health extension training is laying the groundwork for success for these people as they return to normalcy following the war. Your support and prayers are much needed and greatly appreciated.

Led by Church World Service and SKDE (Sant Kretyen pou Devlopman Entegre, or Christian Center for Integrated Development), the focus of the Haiti Northwest Program has been “Sturdy Construction, Risk Reduction.”

When natural disaster strikes and homes and crops get damaged or destroyed, farmers often have to resort to eating the seed they’d saved for the next planting season or sell off any surviving livestock to pay expenses. Both lead to more hunger in the months following the catastrophe. To improve their level of preparedness, members of all nine farmer cooperatives received training in managing risks and building sturdy homes, latrines and animal enclosures.

Having a sound plan and strong structures reduces loss of life and serves to strengthen food security in the face of Haiti’s frequent hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. When people understand and follow the building code they’re more able to withstand the country’s inevitable emergencies without having to start over again each time. One cooperative member said, “I give God thanks because this training protects people’s lives.”

People generally build their own homes, mud-and-stick structures without foundations, so the training sessions start by reviewing the need for digging a foundation, using rebar, and mixing cement to form concrete blocks. The co-ops buy materials in bulk to lower the cost to members, and offer loans and discounts as well, to encourage participation. When families are ready to build, engineers from Church World Service are there to supervise.

Roger, another coop member, said, “Now we don’t need to be afraid anymore, with the work the engineers do.”

In its past 14 seasons of successful harvest, the Corner of Hope local growing project has raised and contributed approximately $350,000 to assist the more worldwide hunger relief efforts of Growing Hope Globally, a new name for an organization with the same Christian-based mission. Previously named Foods Resource Bank, organization leaders say the name change that took place in August of 2018 “reflects our agricultural roots and the key role that we play in helping people a world away lift themselves out of poverty and hunger, providing hope for generations to come.”

The local growing project involves area growers planting such crops as corn, soybeans or hay on donated land utilizing donated equipment, seed, fertilizer and other materials, or using donated local funding to pay for some of those materials. The harvested crops are then sold and the funds distributed through Growing Hope Globally to aid programs enhancing food and water security in less developed countries globally, such as those detailed above.

For information about local growing efforts through Corner of Hope or to assist those local efforts, contact Dennis Byrnes at 563-568-2867. For additional information about Growing Hope Globally, visit

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